Antibodies to the SARS virus, which caused an outbreak of SARS in 2002-2003, are also effective against SARS-CoV-2, scientists in Rotterdam say.
Scientists in the Netherlands claim to be the first in the world to find an antibody that effectively blocks the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. A preprint of their research is posted on the BioRxiv source, a brief conversation with the professor of cell biology Frank Grosveld, group leader, leads nltimes.nl.
He leads a team of ten scientists at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and the University of Utrecht.
The group reported a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV, the culprit of SARS in 2002-2003. It was discovered before the advent of SARS-CoV-2, the current coronavirus. Grosveld says that as soon as they received strains of the modern virus, they immediately tested the antibody variants that were in their laboratory against it.
It turned out, he claims, that one of the antibodies “neutralizes” the virus and “has the potential to prevent and/or treat COVID-19, as well as possibly other future human diseases caused by sarbekovirus pathogens”.
“As far as we know, this is the first antibody that blocks the infection”, the scientist emphasized, adding that their discovery would not necessarily lead to the creation of a vaccine, rather to a new medicine.
Antibodies or immunoglobulins – protein compounds in blood plasma to protect against antigens (foreign or potentially dangerous substances) entering the body. Antibodies attach to and neutralize antigens.
A drug based on such an antibody can be developed much faster than a vaccine, Grosveld said, but specified that it will take months of testing before production starts, and the result will be more expensive than the vaccine. According to the scientist, now they are trying to attract a pharmaceutical company to the process, which is not easy, since there is a chance that the pandemic will wane and end, and the money invested in the development of the medicine will not pay off.
Conclusions in the preprints of studies should be taken as preliminary. Now the article is undergoing expert evaluation and, if tested, will be published in the journal Nature.